But not enough of us share a genuine concern for those players’ heads while they’re in the game.
Football is fun to watch but extremely physically risky to play. One big injury can end a career. But several injuries over a long period – particularly brain injuries – can take a toll on an athlete that’s much more grave.
Studies are mounting: Concussions in college football are becoming more common, and so are their lingering negative health effects, such as depression, memory loss and, over time, a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
A study in the journal Neurology collected data about head injuries from college athletes, then gave them cognitive tests after their seasons ended. The finding: The more blows to the head, the worse the athletes performed on tests. When student-athletes become worse students by being more physical athletes, that’s a huge problem.
How can athletes be better protected from brain injuries? In football, no cutting-edge helmet design is going to completely protect players from bone-jarring, brain-shaking damage.
Reducing the number of full-contact practices would be an excellent start. So would capping the number of head hits a player can take each season.
Failing now to protect young athletes puts their futures in peril.